'Plan Colombia' Update


While the world is busy watching Afghanistan getting bombed back in to the Stone Age, another American-sponsored war has reached its 1st anniversary. In autumn 2000 Bill Clinton authorised the start of Plan Colombia, (SchNEWS 273) a war supposedly against drugs, but which has had far reaching effects on the campesinos (peasant farmers) way of life, not to mention the bio-diversity of the Amazon Basin. Plan Colombia is the US Government’s term for: (a) spraying rebel held areas with an extremely poisonous pesticide called Roundup Ultra to wipe out the coca plant. (Coca is a large part of campesino culture - the equivalent to drinking tea in England. Traditionally eaten raw, it’s a valuable source of vitamins A, D and E and a cure for altitude sickness), and (b) to fund the Colombian military and right wing paramilitary to the tune of $1.3bn to fight against the rebel guerrilla army FARC who control 40% of the country. Trade unionists, human rights activists and campesinos living in the rebel held area have become victims of this dirty war, killed by death squads - decapitation by chainsaw is a common form of ‘punishment’ used. Because of these atrocities and the poisoning of their land, 315,000 people have been displaced in the last year.

Roundup Ultra, made by our old friends Monsanto, is a stronger version of Roundup, a cocktail of pesticides including glyphosate, cosmoflux and POEA. Normal Roundup has been shown to be hazardous to humans, the environment and animals, Roundup Ultra has even more dire effects with campesinos complaining of skin infections, hair loss, headaches, nausea, vomiting, and who knows what in the future, because this stronger version contains untested additives. Roundup was designed to be sprayed in small doses at ground level, not hundreds of gallons from the air.

‘War against drugs’ is a smoke screen to hide the real intentions. The U.S. imports more oil from Colombia, Venezuela and Ecuador than from the entire Persian Gulf and 80% of Colombia’s oil reserves remain unexplored. As Stan Goff, a former U.S. special forces intelligence sergeant put it “The purpose of Plan Colombia is defending the operations of Occidental, BP and Texas Petrol and securing control of future oil fields…the main interest of the U.S. is oil.” So it’s no surprise that oil companies were pushing hard for the U.S. to provide military ‘aid’ to protect their interests in this country. Colombia has always had a history of strong grassroots resistance to neo-liberalism and that’s what Plan Colombia is out to stop. For more info: www.narconews.com

Posted 02 December, 2001 by Roger Lovejoy